Wolff: There were no discussions about a driver-specific clause

Toto Wolff, Lewis Hamilton

Toto Wolff has denied that the insertion of a Max Verstappen clause was discussed with Lewis Hamilton during negotiations between the two parties about a new contract with Mercedes.

The team announced on Monday that Hamilton had signed a new one-year deal to stay with the Brackley team after months of speculation.

Addressing why it was only a one-year agreement, Wolff explained that Mercedes and Hamilton are “totally in line” and will find time later in the year to discuss the future.

“First of all there is a substantial regulations change in 2022,” he said. “We also want to see how the world develops and the company.

“Because we kept it very late, we wanted to discuss the contract at the end of the season between the Bahrain races, and then Lewis obviously didn’t feel well. At the end we started out negotiation conversation just before Christmas.

“It was important to get it done as soon as possible and in that respect we thought let’s postpone the discussion about 2022 an onwards to a later stage in 2021.

“There are uncertainties in the world that affect the way the sport can operate that have an influence on our revenue, on TV monies, on sponsorship income. Daimler and Mercedes are in a huge transformation towards electric mobility and that means investments. So we are living in a financial reality that is very different to what it was a few years ago.

“But having said that we are totally in line, Lewis and me and the wider group in Mercedes, about this situation. So there was never any discrepancy in opinion. It was just that we felt we’ve got to put signature on the 2021 contact because we need to get going and then find some time during 2021, earlier than this time around, to discuss the future.

“And it’s not only specifically to 2022 but also beyond and that is not something that we wanted to carve out via videoconferencing between Christmas and the end of January.”

Wolff also responded to some of the speculation surrounding the negotiations, including the suggestion that Hamilton wanted a Verstappen clause made part of the agreement.

“On the specific clauses that were out there in the media, I don’t know where that came from because none of that is true,” the Mercedes team principal added.

“I actually read about this, I found it an interesting perspective, but the truth is there was not a second of discussion about any driver-specific clause. He has never asked for that in the last eight years and it’s a team decision.

“The other clause about a revenue split or revenue share that rumour was baseless too, so none of that was ever part of our discussions.”